The Great Ecumenical Council
Premiered 9/9/9 (9 September 2009)
The continuation of The Myth and Legend of D'PTah, an original novel by Dan Sewell Ward.
The Great Ecumenical Council
Time to get this report into channels before their arrival; it's too incredibly important. The big guns of the PROC are on their way even as we speak (write/read), but if Dookie can slip the completed version of the attached into the automatic mail – where it would take a personal intervention to stop it – then while the Fox is away the innocents can play. Just get everything to IAGO, hope for the best, and then sit back with drool on our faces when it all hits the blow by. This team is going to be positively amazed that anything could have been wrong with rushing this report to judgment.
Duenki knew that he was taking a chance on this one, calling the play for his own reverse end around... the latter, admittedly, a very strange term, but one allegedly having to do with some form of ancient combative athletics that he was not engaged in... and incidentally (like a lot of people) about which he had no clue, and therefore would likely never be engaged in. Duenki was also intentionally keeping Gil out of the loop – but Dookie's motives in this case were so that his main man could always claim plausible deniability. Gil would ultimately appreciate Duenki's courtesy – no doubt about that!
“The Legend of D'PTah” has traditionally devoted more emphasis to the “Wizards and Phicons” than to any other single subject. This portion of the legend consists initially of:
It is difficult to imagine in our enlightened modern times, the hold that ancient religions had on so many trusting and gullible souls. The unwavering insistence by these antiquated religions to honor and venerate faith above truth; tradition and obedience above compassion; and narrowness of vision over the joys of diversity; do not recommend themselves to intelligent and discerning minds. When one considers the facts that in the name of preserving the faith that innocents have been burned alive, been decapitated for the most senseless of reasons, and been tortured using the most extreme forms of sadism and brutality, one can only bemoan humanity in it's apparently vain struggle to evolve.
D'PTah appears to have well understood the fundamentally inhumane nature of religions in their quest to impose the most idiotic and insupportable dogmas on anyone within range of their influence. It is apparent he also understood the vapid divisions that caused one religion to war upon another. For this reason, he called a Grand Ecumenical Council of all the world's many and diverse religions. It was for those ancient times a first and wholly unique event.
We have extant several descriptions of the proceedings. The first is by an unknown scribe, but is attributed to some scholars to either the Regency's personal scribe, Sally Baer, or the irrepressible Peter Alexanderovich. It is perhaps noteworthy in passing that there appears to be no official history of the occasion. Or quite possibly, any such history was destroyed intentionally.
May the Truth in All of its Glory Continue to be Pursued
M. A. Duenki
There are invitations of such appeal, fascination, and desirability that there can hardly be a single invitee who might even imagine sending regrets. Whether for reasons of status, honor, and/or just the promise of exceptional enjoyment, such invitations are enthusiastically and quickly accepted. Who would dare miss such an opportunity? Certainly not I!
Then there are the invitations of an entirely different sort, those typically at the point of a gun -- a shotgun wedding if you will, where the gentle and persuasive lure of being a significant part of history doesn't quite cut it for the invitee. Or in some cases the fall back position of acceptance being a matter of fiduciary duty just doesn't provide the essential charm and charisma to ensure acceptance of the invite. Instead, it's the old Mafia tradition whereby one makes an offer the other simply cannot refuse.
The key motivator on the Regency's part was that everyone who had any authority over others in religious matters must attend the council. The intent was that each one justify their slavish adherence to dogma and long established doctrine, and to be confronted with their possible irrationality in matters of faith. Opposing opinions and interpretations were either going to demonstrate the tenuous connection with reality that many of them had... or possibly for them to make a serious case. On the other hand, they were not going to be allowed to comfortably sit in their citadels and continue to spout unchallenged dogma. This was to be the council where their karmas ran over their dogmas. No exceptions!
Hopefully, the majority of invitees to the Grand Ecumenical Council were sufficiently honored, intrigued, or else assumed they would have a major role to play, that most of the many invitations were quickly accepted. But only, of course, after the normal flailing about looking for unrealistic demands, the type which were to be met solely for the purpose of establishing one's relative importance among the other invitees. There was also the essential nicety of being able to bring a retinue, an entourage – what was euphemistically called the “delegate's personal escort”. No one of allegedly great power would stoop to not insisting that the number of their underlings matched the numbers of the other delegates of similar rank -- if only to allow everyone to enjoy the game of “our people will contact your people and we'll do lunch.” Everything was designed to demonstrate just how incredibly important each of the various leaders was.
It is the nature of religious leaders to invariably claim... and/or demand... that as the official representatives of their respective deity that they be shown precedence over all others, including such minor, mundane matters as providing food for the starving, protection for the innocents of wars and other conflicts, and the pursuit of happiness by all those in the leader's care. It sounds like a good and effective, if not conclusive argument that one's obedience to a very demanding deity inevitably trumps all other considerations.
Accordingly there were those who deferred, hemmed and hawed, procrastinated, and only when sufficient cajoling and placating had been displayed by the one extending the invitation, did they reluctantly accept – making it very clear that this was an extraordinary situation, and very unlikely that such acceptance was to be repeated in the next century or so. Or with luck in the next millennium or two.
There were a few absolute holdouts, but inasmuch as the Regency was not taking no for an answer, these extremely traditional devotees were taken by force, along with their unwilling escorts (the ones that were not killed or maimed in the process). This naturally caused a certain amount of flax, but overall, everything was well handled by the public relations people who had been briefed and prepared for every eventuality. The basic policy was that anyone disagreeing was obviously insane (and quite possibly all of their followers being similarly afflicted -- numerous forms of insanity being contagious). Accordingly sending regrets was to be given no credence... for reasons of (temporary?) insanity. The “invitation in force” was also covert and handled with such dispatch and surprise, that even in the most extreme case the death toll was less than three, while as many as eight suffered serious wounds. In the end, everyone (leader, escort, wounded and dead) left with the soldiers. The definition of a quorum was destined to be 100% attendance.
There were also the expected demands of the reluctantly willing invitees: the proposals of alternative timing or the insistence on any number of minor modifications to established protocol in order to place the demanding party in the best possible light. In other words, there was all manner of political maneuvering. This included, for example, the issue of studiously avoiding suddenly important religious holidays – many of which were previously little known but nevertheless of such paramount importance that any lack of attention to the Feast of Saint Oggletune... or perhaps the Fast of Foursquare the Marginally Fit... or better yet, the coming out of bondage from South Jersey -- would have constituted full bodied heresy, an irreparable breach to the most profound mysteries, and therefore sufficient cause to send the world into unholy chaos.
Another biggie was the seating arrangement. But here, interestingly enough, all the demands were -- after some extensive haggling -- reluctantly and grudgingly accepted. At the convening, of course, the prior seating arrangements were all routinely ignored. Arch-enemies and hated rivals were seated alongside one another, the seating being done with an almost mischievous intent for entertainment by hidden camera. Smile! Your pointless argument with your arch-enemy is on Candid Camera! The only problem in this case was that some delegates had such long standing arguments with almost every other sect, that there was no way to seat them all in sufficiently close proximity to encourage encounters of the third kind.
But by the time of the convening, it was too late. Once inside the assembly hall, the doors were closed and no one was allowed to exit... for any reason. Even in the halls where some had waited to be assured of their grand entry, there was to be no escape, and thus many stayed in the external halls until it became apparent that they would be left there while the important business of the grand council was being conducted. Standing out in the hall (albeit not in the rain), with no access to the power seats (not to mention the bathrooms), and being forced to remain in the foyer area where platoons of marching soldiers kept the aisles clear of traffic... was not a pleasant result of such vain appeals to vanity. Even the sounds of Pilgrim's Chorus  being piped into the area before and after the closing of the doors was insufficient to remove their considerable chagrin. They were not amused, nor entertained. After the first pause when the doors finally opened in order to allow the remaining holdouts to enter, the opening was met with a mini re-enactment of the Oklahoma Land Rush – with only slightly greater decorum.
A detailed description of these more dramatic events and those in the starring roles will not, however, be provided herein. The reason for this omission is that such resistance was very likely a ploy to increase the resisting leader's standing in the community, rather than any genuine reluctance to accept the invitation. Accordingly, no records were kept of the details of such situations in order to deny the religious leaders their highly profitable pseudo-martyrdoms, and simultaneously to protect the rule-enforcement soldiers from later incrimination. Rule XIX: Never allow the criminally insane access to the media when their insane actions are clearly predicated upon gaining such access.
It began with the gathering of all the self-exalted guests entering the [-UN?-] Assembly Hall of Delegates. [“Unassembly or Disassembly Hall?] Had thoughts been deadly, there would have been a massacre of indescribable proportions as the various “delegates” looked on in disdain and horror at the collection of radically different fundamentalist views among them. There was a marked lack of actual shoving or bodily contact, but rather a great deal of puffing up – as if they were all poppycocks strutting their feathers in an attempt to communicate their self-imposed power and authority.
The security guards were ubiquitous in their presence – some mingling among the delegates and bristling with a vast number of ways and means of inflicting excruciating pain and death. The guards had also been chosen for their massive size, eagerness to maintain order, and disciplinary zeal in enforcing orders. Sadism was also a prevalent characteristic. Accordingly, any hint of an idea that any delegate or his escorts might have had about overtly expressing their hatred of other delegates and/or their retinues was quickly dissuaded. Of course, the exhaustive and thorough searching of each and every person entering the hall – with anything resembling a weapon and its beholder being destroyed and/or detained on the spot – likely carried its own message as well.
It would have been a serious challenge for anyone to have identified or recognized even the race, age, or gender of any of the security guards. Their combat uniforms were sufficient to protect them from a variety of assaults by irate individuals, and at the same time, to disguise their expressions or possible weaknesses confronting possible members of their own religion, race, gender, age, place of birth, or sexual inclinations. Even their eyes were hidden from view of the astute observer. As such, they were all the more intimidating.
Then there were the “house rules”, delivered by an officer without headdress, and in a different uniform than those mingling among the delegates. The officer was a brown skinned, black-haired, veteran of more than a few wars – mercenary and otherwise. People meeting him in the confines of an elevator might easily have fainted outright, the presumption of their continued existence a matter of unquestioned resolution. Such was the manner of Light Colonel Laurenti. His speech to the delegates, was also useful in carrying his authority beyond the point of reasonable doubt.
Clearly the question was rhetorical – even for those who had no clue as to the meaning of the word. The Colonel had asked the question and almost simultaneously, without a glance at anyone, had turned to step down from the dais. His appearance on this particular day -- far outside his normal functions... or what would have been his normal duties... was for some were far more important.
What was perhaps more noteworthy, however, were the stunned, disbelieving and bewildered expressions on virtually everyone. None could have imagined being treated with such disdain. But if they troubled to glance around the room at the other shocked expressions, they might have been partially relieved by apparently not having been singled out. They would also have encountered the figure of one or more security guards, which in itself was enough to check any possible expression or overt reaction. Suddenly it was clear from whence came the expression, “Silence is Golden.” It was also, in this case, life-enhancing.
Anyone not already seated, took their seats and began waiting in the suddenly hushed room. As they waited, the seconds combined to form long, agonizing minutes, as the silence began to prey upon them. There was a degree of nervous twitching, but always studiously discrete... less some arcane rule be violated. And this group, more than most, understood (and had put into practice) severe punishments for violations of the most arcane of rules!
Then, with no fanfare or introduction, the “facilitators” trooped into the hall. They moved easily to the front row facing the assembled delegates. The only sound was the shuffling of their feet, and the occasional murmuring of a few delegates at the female facilitators and their apparent status in a room dominated by male chauvinists of the fourth degree. After allowing a brief inspection by the delegates, the nine facilitators turned and took seats behind a long table specifically designed for this occasion. I will not go into detail in describing the hidden defensive and other technologies which lay behind that table. Suffice it to say that no delegate was likely to breech its defenses and harm any facilitator.
Then the surprise, as an entirely new group composed of several individuals in costume and carrying puppets entered in an apparent random fashion and began to take their places. These were professional entertainers, but clearly exhibiting the slightest degree of stage fright. For a moment, they simply looked upon their – quite literally – captive audience. Then one female lifted her hand slightly, and music begin to fill the room. As it turned out, the group consisted of selected members of the cast of a Broadway musical, Avenue Q. The group was in fact comprised of exceptionally brave members of the cast. They were here to perform one of the musical comedy's songs. Bits and pieces of the lyrics are worth noting here. 
The reaction by the delegates spoke volumes with respect to their character and experiences. There were smiles of recognition of the truth of the words, there was shock and stunned faces of those barely able to countenance what they were seeing, there were stern and angered expressions sufficient to bring the wrath of their dysfunctional deities upon almost everyone in wrath's range, and there were the members who managed a complete evolution of all of the above possibilities (and then some). In short, “Any and all of the above.” The transition from one possibility to the next was, to the observer, an entertainment in itself.
There was scattered applause as the cast members took their bows, and then with apparently no foolhardy thought of milking the audience for a curtain call or two, they exited – possibly with a bit more eagerness than normal. Watching them, I could not help but think that a citation or medal for courage above and beyond the call of duty might be a legitimate consideration. [Later, I was informed that they were indeed honored.]
There was then a return to the silence, while the nine facilitators (as they had been designated) smiled and positively beamed with good will toward the delegates and their escorts. Actually... there might have been a couple of grins in those smiles. As is well known, smile and the world's smiles with you. But if you dare grin... the world wants to know what the hell you're grinning about!
Abruptly the security guards begin to shift into an even greater state of readiness. The side door opened, and a close order group of guards escorted a lone figure into the room. Only when they took up position behind the podium and the figure moved forward to place his hands on the podium and stare out into the assembly did it become clear that the Regency had arrived.
There was no smile of welcome, no politician's gambit of lightening the mood. Just a stern, frowning gesture – one with all the characteristics of an authoritarian school principle preparing to lay down the law to a group of unruly high school students. His gaze moved around the room, lighting here and there on various delegates (and just as promptly dismissing them with his eyes). The silence and waiting were, of course, intentional – and probably recognized as such by the more astute attendees. Captive, subservient audiences need to be constantly reminded of their status.
The Regency let out a heavy sigh, and subtly shaking his dead in apparent dismay, looked down at the podium. When he raised his head again, his eyes encompassing everyone in the room, he began.
“What we have in this room today is the greatest congregation of pure, unadulterated evil the world has ever known.”
The resulting hush was audible; gasps and open mouths predominated. Great theater!
“Assembled here are what must be considered by any objective observer the dregs of humanity, the scum of the world, the most blatantly evil monsters ever foisted upon a civilization – all decked out in their finest paraphernalia, their covert means to inflict upon innocents their insane, dysfunctional and pathetic excuses for philosophical thought. 'We have met the enemy...' and the very worst of them are in this room.
“The inescapable irony is that each of you – with just a moment's reflection – might well agree with my assessment of the evil encompassed by this congregation of religious leaders of every imaginable faith. Certainly, you might be making – and in the past probably already have made -- similar judgments upon the other 95 to 99% of the population of this hall. Between the cults of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and other sects – including the secular heretics hereabouts – there is little love lost among you. To each of you, all the others in this room are the very evil which your religion – or more importantly, your demented interpretations of your religion -- demand you convert or eradicate. In fact, given the opportunity, each of you would almost certainly agree to and delight in the total extermination of virtually everyone else in the room. Your arrogance and blind hatred clearly know no bounds.
“I'm sure there are those of you who would take exception to my words, those who would claim love and compassion as your personal, over-riding traits. But I don't think so. I would suggest, instead, that any expressions of concern for the fates of others of different faiths would be, at best, expressions calculated to deceive and disarm. This is because this has been the tradition, the orthodoxy, the rule by which you have existed since first you donned the mantle of your carved-in-stone beliefs.
“Keep in mind that these remarks are not about religion and its place in the world. It's about the hierarchies of religion, the high ranking authorities who use the “natural human instinct” – Jung's essential need for humans to have an experience of their creator – and which you have used in order to grasp at and expand your mundane power over others. The aphrodisiac of power has been simply too much for any and all of you dirt bags and lowest of lowlifes to resist – even when you might deny yourself the relationships with which you might be able to find your true self.
“Take, for example, Pope Benny and one of the pontifical encyclical letters of his reign. Keeping in mind, of course, in listening to any of his pronouncements that, as has been remarked before, we have living amongst us one of the great minds of the fifth century A.D.
“What's that? Did someone take offense at my jocularity as applied to the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church? If any did, then I think they've missed the point. Popes, one might recall, have traditionally espoused the wonders of humility. Thus calling the Pope, “Benny” or relishing in his... shall we say, traditionalism... will surely assist him in his reaching new levels of humility and self-degradation. One would have to suspect that such is the goal for which he strives and yearns... and we are only too happy to assist him in this regard.
“But alas, I don't see a smile of agreement on his face. Perhaps something was lost in the translation. Come to think of it, it seems as if that has always been the case. Something, I suppose, about a tower and the babel that all of you are so accustomed to inflicting upon others.
But I digress. “In Benny's Encyclical Letter, Deus Caritas Est, of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI to the Bishops, Priests and Deacons, Men and Women Religious and All the Lay Faithful on Christian Love – what a load of crap! Issued the 25th of December 2005, Benny speaks of the essential nature of love among neighbors. Now admittedly, that sounds really cool, all ecumenical and peace loving. But then he adds at one point, “within the community of believers”. In other words, if you believe in the Pope's interpretation of what it means to be within the community of believers (that is to say, if you believe what he believes), then love should be absolutely flowing between you and your fellow believers. But... if on the other hand you disagree with Benny or you're not part of the Pope's community...? Ah yes, what then?
“It's probably worth mentioning that in his encyclical, Pope Benny references in the opening paragraphs to the Book of Leviticus, specifically verse 19:18, which reads, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Of course, in other parts of Leviticus, there are other, less loving statements. For example, “For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death” [20:9]. “And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” [20:10] “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death.” [20:13]
“So why aren't Benny and his inquisitional henchmen out killing adulterers, homos, and those who have cursed their parents... the latter which at one time or another probably accounts for a majority of the world's population? Aren't these scriptures, the alleged word of God, telling Benny to do just that? Isn't death for non-believers the epitome of following the word of a wrathful, ego-centric, decidedly dysfunctional deity? Worse yet, doesn't this blind obedience to ancient madness also apply to fundamentalist and orthodox Judaism?
“In the Koran, we are told that unbelievers are to be shunned, and if necessary put to the sword.
“What is being feared here? The possibility of one's faith being challenged? Is this paranoia... or is it that the faith is so unsupportable that it's not paranoia at all? Instead, is it a recognition that one's faith is built upon fine sand?
“Furthermore anyone once espousing Islam must be judged if he ever reconsiders his devotion and attempts to become an ex-Muslim. Apparently, the only good ex-Muslim is a dead one. 
“How about the Dalai Llama, the compassionate? Hello, Dolly! Did you think I had overlooked you? Or that you had failed to incur my notice? No chance. For as I recall, when you were asked to bless a marriage between two people of the same sex, you refused. Was that an example of your compassion, your unconditional love for all creatures? Is your compassion... conditional?
“Do you or any other member of this congregation wish to deny the inherent evil of ancient teachings on the subjects of gender bias, homosexuality, racism, and so forth and so on? Would any of you deny that a rabid bunch of hypocrites have been preaching love out of one side of the mouth, while stabbing non-believers in the back all the while?
“What is truly astounding is the fact that so many of you who condemn all manner of sexual relations have already committed yourself to a life without sex. How in the world can a demented group of eunuchs be considered to have any knowledge or authority over those who follow the natural instincts which the creator has instilled within them?
“Or is it your argument that the Creator fouled up and created humans whose imperfections are legion? Are you claiming an omnipotent and omniscience being who must be forgiven for some regrettable mistakes? Are we to accept the charge of one scholar who claims the Supreme Being's last message to his creation were, 'We apologize for the inconvenience?' 
“Consider a curious irony. There doesn't seem to be anything in the Bible about a woman having sexual relations with another woman. Homosexuality between men is clearly a capital offense, but where is a similar injunction against such activities for women? An oversight? Or were women so degraded and considered so irrelevant to religious life that the Book of Leviticus doesn't even allow for the space in the texts to mention this possibility? Does the Koran perhaps rail against Lesbians as it does against male homosexuality, or are women so inconsequential that there is no need to?
“The fascinating thing is the interesting possibility that this leads to: Apparently, lesbians have free rein to engage in sexual activity. This should be good news for some!
“As for male homosexuality, one might wonder about the location of the prostate gland, that most fundamental (pardon the pun) of male sexuality. The fact this internal gland can be stimulated via the anal canal – and thus allow the means to encourage male homosexuality – one would have to wonder why the Creator of perfect beings – to quote the Koran -- would have used this particular design? Were men designed for anal sex? Could this be some form of intelligent design? Does that suggest the possibility of divine approval of such activities?
“There is a wonderful poem about the Goddess, which includes the line:
“There seems to be a great deal of wisdom in this quote. It may of course be a difficult concept for celibate, sexually ignorant-in-the-extreme, effective eunuchs. The idea of sex as a means of worship – the very idea that an intensely pleasurable activity might be a means of honoring one's Creator; even leading to the possibility of spiritual epiphanies – must really drive the sexually incompetent among you, up the wall.
“And what has been your response? Anti-Defamation Leagues, Fatwas on authors who dare to question your demented concepts, Dominionism and defending the faith at whatever cost -- including the violation of every covenant in the moral precepts of your religion? Inquisitions, crusades, holy wars, jihads, honor killings, and every manner of horrific pain and suffering imposed upon others who do not believe as you do? Where does the insanity end?
“Faith, which must be defended by fiat or secular law has, by definition, no rational reason for existence.
“I think I see a few smiles intermingled among you. Are the secular delegates, the so-called humanists, the allegedly rational among you... enjoying themselves? What of their priests of scientific orthodoxy, those without the wit or open mind to consider the inadequacy and incompleteness of their vaunted science? Is the corporate control of the secular power of science so persuasive so as to ensure a scientific dogma? How can a science hung up on temporary and fashionable theories fail to incorporate experimental data that fails to substantiate their quaint theories? How can science ignore experiential and observations external to the laboratory? How can science ignore consciousness? Would you have secular, scientific, corporate, and governmental terrorism join religious fanaticism?
“There is no cause for any of you to claim superiority in this collection of has-beens!
“One can only wonder why the lot of you -- and we make NO exceptions when we say ALL of you... insist on being the epitomes of undiminished and undisguised evil. In the simplest language, your blind, willfully ignorant quest is – above all else – to limit others in their manner of seeking happiness, fulfillment, and whatever gives then any sense of completion. Limiting philosophies are by their very nature, evil – in direct opposition to the freedom to choose, the liberty of following one's own heart, and the manner in which one meets their very individual destiny. If your God or any god worthy of the name gave you free will, did such a Creator assume you would not use it to choose freedom, to choose the pursuit of happiness on this planet in this incarnation, this... incarceration?
“You may have heard me speak of Common Law – the inalienable right for every sentient being to do anything they choose, constrained only by the equal rights of others. But this is not what you preach. What you advocate – and attempt to enforce by not merely pain and death, but by eternal damnation – are limits imposed by the bizarre, confused, irrational obedience to ancient madness.
“Why would you concoct such a self-defeating, dehumanizing scheme? Perhaps the reasons are power, control, something to justify your wretched existences? Probably. After all, it is never you, the worshiped minor deities of your faith, that are called upon to be the next martyr. Although I may well give you the opportunity to die for your faith in the coming weeks, the essential element of your authority precludes you from acting in accordance with your preaching. Isn't that convenient!
“Do you still claim you're acting purely out of the word of God? Haven't you been paying attention lately. The gods you so readily idolizes have been shown in their true context as jealous, dysfunctional, power hungry creatures of the most minimal value. And yet you still hold to your wild and weird, literally insane fabrications of reality!
“How does one rationalize and preserve the waning tenets of the religion when confronted with the Return of those extraterrestrials who once were revered as angels, gods, goddesses, and supreme deities – those same beings described in myths, legends, Sumerian epics, and engraved in stone? How does one justify and glorify the perpetuation of tribal and clan atrocities, such as honor killings? And how often have each of you put yourself at risk by condemning such practices?”
There was a long pause, as the Regent took a breath, sighed and stared at the congregation. For a moment he simply shook his head. Then he took another deep breath, and began again.
“Is there any reason not to deep six the lot of you on the spot?” There was a momentary pause as the translators struggled to convey the threat behind the question. Then the Regent, after a long, lingering pause, smiled slightly... perhaps more of a grimace.
“Well, there are practical reasons. Dispensing with you as one might kill a rabid dog... such a rational, justifiable action might not go over well with the populace. I can't count on them – as I might count on you – to understand that I've eliminated 95 to 99% of what they would consider as evil. This only works with... well... with radical fundamentalists – those who can never admit to anyone's views other than their own. Only such fundamentalists as yourselves can comprehend the wisdom of eliminating all of the other fundamentalists – sort of a wide open shot at total domination.
“There is also the barest possibility – albeit perhaps requiring divine intervention, an intervention of the truly divine -- that some of you might actually be able to contribute something positive to the world. It seems unlikely, and one is prone to quickly dismiss such minute possibilities. But... But there is always the far out possibility that some in this room might be able to momentarily set aside their willful ignorance and do something positive, something actually in accord with the most basic tenets of their alleged and loudly proclaimed philosophical beliefs.
“There will, of course, be the need for... motivation. Perhaps something like no one leaves this place alive until your task is completed. Or perhaps you have other ideas in this regard. Feel free to express them at a later time, when the subject becomes... shall we say... more pressing?
“For now, let us consider it an ultimatum, a binding charge to create a common set of rules and standards on how humans can best treat their fellow humans, the other species of this planet, and the planet itself. What is required is a set of sacred principles, laws, even commandments by which every human on the planet can be expected to follow in all of their interactions. There will be NO unnecessary constraints, no prohibitive laws that do not have the essence of necessity for their existence. There will be no articles of faith which require others to believe in fairy tales, superseded understandings, and traditions which fly in the face of common sense.
“For example, you can consider circumcision and genital mutilation to be a thing of the past. As Dr. Sami A. Aldeeb Abu-Salieh at the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law has said:
“Suffice it to say that effective immediately anyone who imposes or participates in circumcision upon anyone else is guilty of a crime equivalent to second degree murder and will be punished accordingly and without the possibility of any reduction in sentence. Anyone who imposes or participates in circumcision upon more than one person, will be summarily executed. Anyone who is of age, of sound mind and body, and who knowingly and willingly desires to be circumcised as a sign of their beliefs and/or for health reasons may do so without fear of any form of retribution. But imposing the barbaric practice on infants and helpless dependents, or by rule of law will be met with the severest of penalties.
“On your more encompassing mission, and to assist you in reaching a set of common values and principles by which humans can live in peace and prosperity, I have provided nine volunteers, an advisory council who will hopefully facilitate discussions and maintain the focus toward accomplishing your laudatory goals. Some of you may have already noticed two women among them – female scholars with an impressive understanding of ethics, philosophy, and religion. If any of you are bothered by their presence, consider that their selection was done in part to specifically antagonize you and anyone else of the male chauvinist pig persuasion. We will not tolerate gender bias in the principles that you will be formulating. If this bothers you... get ye over it. Alternatively, request a voluntary, immediate -- albeit unacknowledged -- martyrdom from one of the security personnel and they will happily oblige you.
“You have the greatest of opportunities today: to create the wisdom that will guide others for thousands of years into the future. You will have the chance – even the sacred and holy obligation -- to bridge the gaps between you, to set aside all... all of the old grievances from the past. Today is the first day and the first step in healing the wounds spanning millenniums... an opportunity for you to leave an unsurpassed legacy.
“In all of your dealings, you will remain civil. Screamers will be silenced. You will, as they say, be on your best behavior. Otherwise, you will set your own procedural rules. We will personally rule on any controversial issues in that regard, should such a ruling be deemed essential. We will also be the final judge of the success of your attempts.
“You should know that the price of failure is something you will not want to dwell upon. Suffice it to say that we do not tolerate martyrdom in the sense that we do not allow for identification of martyrs or their messages, and tend to chop up the bodies of such demented individuals and feed them to the fishes far out at sea.
“Oh, by the way, in case this point has not been made beyond a reasonable doubt... no one leaves until your collective task is done.
“So. It is time to begin. Now is the time for you to now stand up for those philosophies that you have long been espousing, such that those who follow you... and those who follow other philosophies... can ultimately live lives of maximum fulfillment. You have a difficult task ahead of you. And I sincerely hope you will be able to rise to the challenge. In any case... Good luck.”
 “Everyone's A Little Bit Racist”, Avenue Q, Music and Lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, Book by Jeff Whitty, 2003. See also: http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/avenueq/everyonesalittlebitracist.htm [Thanks to MJuba@comcast.net for lyrics]
 Apostasy is punishable by [government sanctioned] death or imprisonment in some Muslim countries and deplored throughout the Islamic world. See, for example:
 Douglas Adams, So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, Random House, New York, 1985.
2003© Copyright Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved [Feedback]